Missing the Magic

Holiday Magic, Writing Magic

As an American with a Pagan dad and a Southern Baptist mom, I celebrate both Solstice and Christmas. As a person with friends who love hosting over-the-top parties, every year I spend a couple days helping prep for a massive New Years Eve party.

I know I’m fortunate to be at a company that shuts down for a week at the end of December. My previous company didn’t but it’s a great way to help cut down some of the holiday stress. Or give me more time to fill with family and friends…

And believe me, my schedule has been jam-packed. Full of people I love, but definitely busy.

There was one thing though, that I missed. Despite my moderately-distracted efforts.

Link to the youtube version of this blogpost.

I missed the taste of wonder, of peace, of heart-filling joy that I usually can find this time of year.

For me? Usually, it’s after sunset. Either outside, in the still and the quiet of the night, with the chill nipping at my nose and the moon shining down. Or inside, with all the lights turned down low, just sitting and basking in the light of my tree.

Image may contain: tree, sky, night, plant, outdoor and nature
The moon at night, behind dark trees. Solstice night.

Well, I found a quiet moment outside with the moon shining down — took a picture, and ran off to the Solstice celebration a friend was hosting.

I found a few evenings with my lights turned low and my tree all aglow. But, I didn’t get my sense of basking.

I don’t know if I was distracted or tired or if I just wasn’t in the proper frame of mind, but I missed it.

Now, this isn’t to say I’ve had a bad holiday! Not by any stretch of the imagination. Minimal drama, seeing almost all of those I love, lovely and thoughtful gifts, delicious food. All the things that make the season bright. But I missed the magic.

Person holding a blue ballpoint pen writing.
Photo by picjumbo.com on Pexels.com

As for my writing?

I’ve done nothing this month. But, that’s not unusual for me with my post-NaNo hangover, chore backup, and seasonal plans.

  • Some reading? Yes.
  • Some incorporation of beta-reader feedback? Only read the summary.
  • Some blogging? Of course.

Now? I sit and contemplate what I want to do next. I’ve debated incorporating the feedback and hopping back on the query road, revising a rough draft, or finding a new project.

Because? There’s the never-ceasing sensation that a deadline is looming. Only one problem with that. This writing thing? The only deadlines for are the ones I give myself. I have no agent, no editor, no contracts. True, I’d like to have that sense of ‘done’, that feeling of accomplishment. But there is no one, other than myself, staring at the calendar and waiting for me to finish. To find a publisher or publish it myself.

I think need to take a break from the writing until I’m ready. Until I’m excited once more to see how much better I can make my story. Until I’m ready to dive back into the query trenches or the editing doldrums. Until I can find the magic again.

Meanwhile? I’ll think about my worlds, I’ll take notes when inspired, and I’ll keep blogging–sharing advice I’ve received from people who DO have deadlines and have already found their audience.

And? I’ll read.

Did you celebrate the holidays? Did you find your joy?

If you’re writing for yourself, do you have trouble letting yourself take a break?


Happy Independence Day!

Even if Americans can’t all agree on values, priorities, or who’s right (clearly: ME), I still have hope for a brighter future for our nation.

America has made me what I am today and, for better or worse, she’s my home.

In honor of the holiday, here’s my recording of the Star Spangled Banner from last year. (I’m not much better now.)

P.S. It was originally broadcast live. NOT the culmination of clips of 25 million different takes.

A Holiday Story: Visiting Home

In honor of the holiday week, here’s a story about the transition between ‘coming home for the holidays’ and ‘visiting home’.

Thanksgiving had been short. We’d celebrated a day late to accommodate schedules. An aunt and an uncle who both worked shift work, and me, with my job at the bookstore/coffee shop that graciously allowed me Black Friday off…after I’d worked past 1 am Thanksgiving Eve.

But now?

Now I had a shiny new job and paid holidays. Working a job that used that expensive degree I’d spent four years earning. A job that closed between Christmas Eve and New Year’s day.

Thus, on Christmas Eve’s Eve, there I was, sitting in an office as the sun sank beyond the horizon, counting down the minutes until 7:30 pm.

The rest of my coworkers were long gone, having the leave available to start their holidays a bit early. I was still on a loaner laptop, in the glory that was my own office: half-storage space, half fish-bowl, looking out upon the glory that was a parking lot–and the smoker’s alcove. The office was a bit drafty, but my grandfatherly manager, after noticing me huddled in my coat and gloves at my desk had finagled me a space heater the week before. I had it cranked all the way up.

Finally, 7:25 pm rolled around.

Close enough, I thought.

Traffic was still rough as I headed the thirty-one miles down Interstate 95, through holiday traffic.

In my shared apartment, I grabbed dinner and waited. By 9:30 pm, traffic was as died down as it was going to get, that eve before Christmas Eve.

I piled all the gifts I was bringing into my trusty red Ford Taurus, most of them books hastily bought on credit before my bookstore employee discount ended. And before I’d actually earned that first non-minimum wage paycheck.

Taking a back highway south, I managed to make reasonable time, arriving home before my parents went to bed for the night.

The electric candles gleamed in the windows, the Christmas tree was framed in the living room window, making sure to impose that holiday spirit to any who drove by.

It looked just as I remembered it.

I smiled as I gathered my bags and made my way towards the door that had been mine for eighteen years.

“Oh good,” my stepdad was standing in the doorway as I approached. Had he heard my car pull up? “Can you hold the door for me?”

My hands were full, so I used my hip to catch the screen door and stepped back to let him pass.

Blinking, I couldn’t believe my eyes.

“Is that my bed frame?!” I asked in disbelief as a familiar, twin-sized headboard, with space for books, passed by me and headed up the driveway to the road.

“I went in to change the sheets!” my mother explained as I stumbled into the house, bewildered. “You never told me that bed was ready to collapse! I thought I was getting you a good, solid bed. I spent my coach’s stipend on it, that year.”

As a high school librarian, even coaching Academic Bowl didn’t make her salary go very far. I knew how much she’d given up to get me that furniture.

“It wasn’t that bad, Mom. I loved that bed,” I hastily reassured her over the cheerful yapping of our puppies. The sideboard was a little crooked, but it couldn’t have been that bad.

“There was only one cross-wire supporting the thing. We’re lucky it didn’t fall with you sleeping on it,” Mom said.

“Wait. Really?” I stared agape.

Mom raised her eyebrows and nodded.

I slumped, then pushed past the puppies, bags still bundled over my shoulders, and made my way down to the end of the hall where my old childhood bedroom lay.

Opening the door, the scent of a stale, closed-off room welcomed me. And the sight of a mattress made up for me on the floor.

“Welcome home,” I sighed to myself.

It was still a good Christmas.

Do you have a story about visiting home?

For My Dearest Peddler

(I haven’t put any of my fiction up here, so this is a first. Just a short vignette I wrote this week.)

She’d had to cram a year of work into a few short months. That’s when her stasis ended. The magic that took the year and compressed it for her gave her just long enough to do her work. Four months out from delivery was now when they could calculate what might be wanted and what would be needed.  It was part of the deal she’d made.

For much of the year, the little ones experimented and worked on pet projects, lived their lives, grew their families. But once she awoke, it was time for all-hands on deck, around-the-clock work. They had deals through many of the large manufacturers: two percent of the merchandise would be delivered there for her purposes. It was easy to get these deals when you got in early, while the companies were still small, before they’d grown into the massive conglomerates that they were now.

They had to start sorting, organizing, and filling in the gaps as soon as possible. Towards the end, they got specific requests. Those took some shuffling, since she worked hard to get everything lined up right. But it was all worth it after they made their deadline–a day to celebrate. A day to relax.

It seemed every year was harder than the one before. Every year her time was just a little longer than before. Fortunately, they only had to take care of the one night. There were others who had their own arrangements to handle the other nights.

Tonight was their night. She’d gotten to see him when he awoke. They’d shared a filling dinner, but it hadn’t been long enough. He didn’t have time. His stasis was longer than hers. Rather than a year compressed into four months, he got a year compressed into one night. And one day.

She still wanted to help all the children, to make sure none under her charge were missed. She loved giving them hope and sharing what she could with them.

That was why they’d accepted the bargain. They could stay on and fulfill their mission, continuing on, with all their time condensed into the days they were needed–those that would do the most good. In exchange they got an eternity together.

Even if it was just one day a year.